I always knew that Grandpa and his brother, Dutch, rode in the World's Fair rodeo that year. He told us lots of stories about his rodeo adventures, and we have this photo of him riding in one of the World's Fair parades. But definitive and documented proof that he actually competed in any of the events had always eluded me.
Well, eBay to the rescue! Every now and then, I head over to eBay and search for books or other ephemera that might be related to my ancestors (you'd be surprised how many of my kin made it into various historical books). A couple of months ago, I got it into my head to search for "Treasure Island 1939 rodeo" and up popped both the rodeo program and the schedule for one of the days that Grandpa John and his friends competed. Of course, I snapped them up immediately!
In addition to listing Grandpa competing in the Brahma Bull riding competition, the day program also lists Uncle Dutch as one of the competitors for the whole event. There were several other exciting rodeo attractions on night of May 13, including the famous rodeo trick rider, actor and stuntman, Montie Montana, as well as rodeo clown and bullfighter, Homer Holcomb, and his Brahma Bull Chariot.
To add to my delight, my eBay seller lives in San Francisco, and has offered to keep an eye out for any other Treasure Island rodeo ephemera for me. I *wish* the program still cost only 25 cents, but I feel like I got a bargain just by finding this actual treasure!
|Grandpa John, riding bronc in another rodeo|
Since coming across this amazing find, I've been digging even deeper for more information on Grandpa John's rodeo experience at Treasure Island. I subscribe to a couple of different online newspaper archives, including NewspaperArchive, and have now found further evidence of Grandpa competing in the rodeo, and being INJURED. Here's an article from the May 20, 1939, Oakland Tribune that mentions Grandpa John being gored behind the ear by the very bull he was riding, and being saved from further injury (or worse!) by the aforementioned rodeo clown, Homer Holcomb. Wow!
So, what's the lesson here? I think it's to not just rely on Ancestry.com and Google searches and other more obvious places to find documentation about our ancestors' lives. Start searching in more unlikely places like eBay, or even your local antique store. You never know what you're going to find!